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Psychology (4,929)
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Chapter 1

Chapter 1.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 2310A/B
Professor
Rod Martin

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Chapter 1 Concepts of Abnormality throughout History  Eccentric and unusual behaviour or beliefs are not necessarily abnormal according to diagnostic criteria, although the boundary between eccentric and abnormal is not always clear  Behaviours that are repugnant and threatening to others, such as aggression and murder, are not always signs of an underlying psychological disorder  Psychological abnormality – refers to behaviour, speech, or thought that impairs the ability of a person to function in a way that is generally expected of him or her, in the context where the usual functioning occurs  Mental illness – a term often used to convey the same meaning as psychological abnormality, but it implies a medical rather than psychological cause  Psychological disorder – a specific manifestation of this impairment of functioning, as described by some set of criteria that have been established by a panel of experts  Psychopathology – the scientific study of psychological abnormality and the problems faced by people who suffer from such disorders Attempts at defining Abnormality  Concept of abnormality changes over time and across cultures  Normal and abnormal are vague concepts  One criteria alone cannot be used  Criteria: o Statistical concept – behaviour is judged as abnormal if it occurs infrequently in the population o Personal distress – many people who have a psychological disorder report being distressed however many don’t as well (anti-social personality disorder; only causes distress to others not themselves)  a frequent but not essential feature of abnormality o personal dysfunction – when behaviour clearly interferes with appropriate functioning  wakefield: harmful dysfunction is the key notion; dysfunction referring to failures of internal mechanisms to perform naturally selected functions  to conclude that a behaviour is disordered requires both a scientific judgment that there exists a failure of designed function and a value judgment that the design failure harms the individual o violation of norms – behaviour and thoughts of many psychologically disordered individuals run counter to what we might consider appropriate  how we define abnormality is culturally relative, abnormality is defined relative to that culture’s norms which change over time o diagnosis by an expert  clinical psychologists – study refers to understanding, diagnosis, and amelioration of disorders of thinking and behaviour; trained to provide psychological treatment  psychiatrists – focuses on diagnosis and medical treatment; emphasizes the use of pharmacological agents in managing mental disorders  psychiatric nurses – work in a hospital setting where they manage day-to-day care of mentally disordered patients  psychiatric social workers –attend to influence of social environment of disordered patients  occupational therapists – focus on helping clients to improve their functional performance; ex: community living skills  Szasz: idea of mental disorders was invented by psychiatry to give control to its practitioners to the exclusion of other people such as clergymen Historical Concepts of Abnormality  Our understanding of history ought to help us avoid errors of the past  When we examine the way in which societies in the past have viewed and treated abnormality, we will see that their concepts are shaped by the prevailing views of the time concerning all manner of phenomena  Supernatural causes – causes beyond the understanding of ordinary mortals, such as influence of gods, demons, or magic o A society that explains everyday events as a result of these causes will view madness similarly o Psychological dysfunction in various historical periods was thought to result either from possession by demons or the witchcraft of evil people o Treatment: exorcism to rid evil spirits or other magical or spiritual means o Evidence from prehistory:  Skulls have been found with circular sections cut out of them that were supposed to let the evil out (trephination)  Alternate explanation is it was intended to remove bone splinters or blood clots o Egyptians used supernatural explanations for abnormal behaviour o Hunter-gatherer societies also look at mental disorders as supernatural o Still occurs today, a man with schizophrenia in Africa was chained to a tree outside his village for more than 10 years  Natural causes – can be observed or examined o Mental afflictions are Treated in ways that address the natural cause  Hippocrates was the father of modern medicine o Rejected the notion of supernatural causes for mental illness o Argued stress could influence mental functioning o Dreams were important in understanding why someone was suffering from mental illness o Treatment: quiet life, vegetarian diet, exercise, no alcohol  Induced bleeding or vomiting if these do not work o Humours – bodily fluids; psychological dysfunction results from disturbances in humours hence inducing bleeding or vomiting  Cheerfulness – excess of blood  Ill-temper – excess of yellow bile  Gloom – excess of black bile  Listlessness – excess of phlegm o First to describe hysteria now known as conversion disorder  Psychologically induces blindness, deafness, or other apparent defects in perceptual or bodily processes  hysteria occurred only in women and was due to a ‘wandering uterus’  asylum – place of refuge and protection; treatment followed the tradition of care, support, and compassion o began in Arab culture  Europe in the Middle Ages o Possession was very popular o People who sinned were handed over to Satan from God and if Satan possessed them spiritually they were witches o Resulted in mild to severe exorcisms sometimes resulting in death o Paracelcus – famous swiss alchemist and physician  One of the first to attack beliefs about supernatural possession  Claimed all mental illness resulted from spiritus vitae (breath of life)  Could be upset by the stars or disturbed by vapours arising in various parts of the body  St Vitus’ Dance – epidemic of mass hysteria, people would have an urge to jump up and dance and sometimes convulse
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